Subscribe now


By Ruth Burke
July 2014 | Review by Elisabeth Epps
  • Publisher: Day One Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-84625-394-2
  • Pages: 128
  • Price: 10.00
Buy this book »

Book Review


Ruth Burke
Day One Publications, 128 pages, £10.00
ISBN: 978-1-84625-394-2
Star Rating : 3

Many readers will be familiar with John Bunyan’s The pilgrim’s progress, an allegorical story depicting the spiritual journey of a Christian. Since the original was written, it has been condensed, simplified and illustrated for younger readers. Likewise, Mansoul is an abridged and modernised version of part 1 of Bunyan’s Holy war.

I have never read the original, so this review makes no attempt to evaluate the quality of Ruth Burke’s adaptation, but simply to comment on Mansoul taken at face value.

The story itself is helpfully prefaced by a ‘Before you start’ explanation of the book: one for a young reader and a separate one for parents (although don’t take that to mean it wouldn’t be a good read for any adult wanting to avoid tackling the original!).

I estimate a reading age of 8-9yrs+, but suggest that any parent reads it first to facilitate discussion with their child. Through the battle for the city and people of Mansoul, we can trace the battle for man’s soul: from the perfect relationship enjoyed in creation, through the Fall, to the redemption won for us in Christ.

We meet many classically Bunyan, aptly named characters (their names reflect their role or personality), such as Mr Conscience. Thankfully, Ruth Burke chose to include only the essential ones from the original hundreds, even though the analysis of what they all represent can still feel slightly overwhelming.

In an age of Lord of the rings, young people, especially boys, will love the descriptions of the people, places, battles and warfare, aptly and colourfully brought to life by Bruce Hyatt’s illustrations — themselves, no mean feat!

However, despite the useful ‘Who’s who?’ and glossary at the end of the book, with any allegory there is the risk of misunderstanding and more importantly, of confusing the story with biblical truth.

Additionally, I was troubled by the absence of a ‘cross’ or sacrifice. I was also left feeling that the portrayal of the persons of the Trinity didn’t really do them justice — more distant and less omnipotent — but I guess that’s the risk of humanising them in a story.

This book makes great food for thought for all ages. It should provoke sincere reflection upon the true splendour of our merciful king and his victory in our lives as revealed in his Word, but it’s important you play spot the difference!

Elisabeth Epp



Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Being a Pastor: A conversation with Andrew Fuller
Michael Haykin

In their introduction, the authors express their concern regarding the effect of megachurch pastors and public perception of what makes a good minister. A principle stated at the beginning of the book is that we should learn from the example…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Last Valley: A story of God’s grace in terminal illness

In touching detail, Graham Heaps reflects on the terminal illness and subsequent death of his late wife Sue in 2015. It is by no means an enjoyable read, but it bears splendid testimony to the goodness and grace of God…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Out of the Black Shadows
Stephen Lungu

In this superbly written and compelling book, Anne Coomes artfully tells the story of Stephen Lungu. It is an explosive story of God’s power at work in the darkest of situations. I challenge you to read it and remain unconvinced…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Fruitful Home: Creating a gospel culture for family life
Ann Benton

As Christians, we long to train up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6); and in The Fruitful Home, Ann Benton helpfully and practically gives us solid biblical advice on how to go about this intentionally. In a…